First things first, we need to thaw and unwrap the ol' tongue. I actually happened into possession of two separate tongues. The other tongue was much more picturesque and probably would look a lot better in shitty phone pics, but that one is also vacuum wrapped all nicely, while this one was just wrapped in plastic and butcher paper. So I figured the other one would keep a lot longer. Anyway, this is what a beef tongue looks like (albeit one that's already had a bit of pre-butchering):
|The tastebuds. It's most definitely a tongue.|
Anyway, much like the oxtail, the tongue needs a nice long bath, simmering in various flavorful things to make it both tender and tasty. Here it is enjoying some soaking time:
|Celery, onions, bay leaves, peppercorns, tongue|
|May not look like a tongue, but again, it most definitely feels like one|
|Don't let the remarkable resemblance to dog food throw you.|
|This is what something looks like in a frying pan.|
This picture was probably unnecessary.
|Hi! I'm a pile of tongue!|
|Yup, those are tacos alright.|
But was it any good?
Well…kinda. I mean, they definitely weren't bad, but they weren't spectacular. However, I think I made a few key mistakes that could easily be avoided in future tongue cooking. Specifically to the tacos, the grocery store was out of queso fresco when I was there, and I'll be good God damned if I'm going to go to two grocery stores, so I just went with some generic "mexican blend" packaged cheese. This was a big mistake, as the queso fresco would not only have tasted better, but the salty fattiness of it would have really complemented the tacos in a way they could have used. Similarly, I didn't have any limes, and these things were just screaming for some acidity.
In more general tongue preparation, there seemed to be a split opinion on the google machine as to whether tongue needs to be brined before cooking. I skipped it mainly for time concerns (and I'm honestly getting sick of washing dishes -- this shit makes you use a lot of dishes), but I imagine it would have gone quite a way toward solving the acidity problem as well as softening the tongue up more to get rid of the rubberiness. You can't ever completely make tongue loose that rubbery texture, but I think I could have done more. Mine was still fairly rubbery and at the very least probably could have used another hour or so of simmering (but it was getting late, and I was hungry). I'm going to try making the leftovers into a quesadilla incorporating a few more ingredients, though, which I think will make it significantly more palatable. One other problem was that even though I chopped up the tongue as soon as I possibly could (probably sooner than I should have, given how I repeatedly burnt my fingers), by the time the tacos were all assembled, the tongue had cooled quite a bit. Like to basically room temp. While I still could have done more to make the tongue less rubbery, I'm guessing consuming it at room temp probably doesn't help.
Finally, as alluded to above, there is no mistaking you're working with a tongue here. If you had just given me these tacos and not explained what the meat was I might have thought they were a tad rubbery, but not really cared or noticed. But after you've had to handle the tongue for quite sometime, it's simply impossible to push that…feeling out of your head. I think when I have the leftovers and haven't just recently been handling a bloody tongue it might go better.
Have we learned anything from this process?
Yes. Cooking is fun! This is something I already knew, but it's been a long while since I've tried to push myself into really different foods/recipes than I normally cook with. It's a fun hobby, and typically leaves you with something delicious at the end, so it's nice to occasionally just do it for fun rather than for utilitarian purposes.
Also, I don't do much day-long simmering like this very often and I've forgotten how awesome it makes the house smell. I've always been too young and/or single to own a crockpot, but this is making me rethink that. My house has smelled pretty awesome all week. Drives Dog nuts, though.
A friend passed along a tasty-looking recipe for beef heart, so that's going to happen in the near future. But the true golden grail is brain, which is probably my favorite of all the organs. I'm going to try making it two ways, so that should be a fun entry. I'll either end up with the most delicious thing I've ever made or a really fun blog post about how I wasted a day ruining food. Or I'll get mad cow and post nothing but insane gibberish. In any event, that oughtta be a fun one.